Alternative Character Interpretation: Does O'Malley genuinely believe the conspiracy theories he espouses or is he a double agent for the Syndicate, or simply in it for the money? Mulder even ponders on the last one.
And You Thought It Would Fail: A barely-known creator and male protagonist, along with a completely unknown actress, plus a premise that could alienate people given the Sci Fi Ghetto. Fox even put the show right after The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. feeling that would be the hit, and The X-Files would get the residual audience... when Brisco County Jr struggled with falling ratings and didn't get renewed, and The X-Files only improved its audience within S1 and eventually lasted for 11 seasons.
Anvilicious: "The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati" really goes nuts with the Mulder-is-Jesus subtext. At one point, Mulder is strapped to a cross-shaped operating table clad in nothing but a loincloth with some sort of brain-scanning device on his head that looks eerily like a crown of thorns, whilst the Smoking Man is babbling on about the sacrifice Mulder's making for the world and how wonderful it is that he's dying for everyone.
Archive Panic: With nine seasons of twenty-odd episodes each and two revival seasons having 6 and 10 episodes respectively, it takes a long time to get through the series if you're starting from the very beginning.
Award Snub: Averted with Gillian Anderson, who won just about every award on the block for her work as Scully. However, while the series did do extremely well at the Emmys and Golden Globes, it never could win Best Drama Series from the former, despite taking it from the Globes on 3 occasions. Could be attributed to a case of Sci Fi Ghetto.
Averted for several years. This was one of the first television shows to be sold on DVD, and so distributors didn't know what the price points should be. For many years the DVD seasons were priced over $100 each.
Played straight later. A season is about $15 if you know where to go. (Others keep it priced at $40 a season.) It is Better on DVD if you want to avoid Continuity Lockout in terms of the Myth Arc — especially because of all the double and triple episodes, some of which were even spread over two seasons.
All 9 seasons are on Hulu. Go crazy (The movies aren't, unfortunately)
And now, it's better on Blu-Ray. All 10 seasons can be bought on blu-ray for 20 bucks a piece on average as of June 2016. Better yet, these releases, for the most part, use 35mm film transfers whereas the DVDs (and for a long time until January 2016, Netflix) used old tapes. Before the release, there was a seemingly built-in case of They Changed It, Now It Sucks! due to seasons 1-4 being presented in 1:85.1, until the director of photography issued a statement clarifying that the seasons were always filmed in widescreen so that it would be "Available". Some episodes of earlier seasons had to use upconverted video sources due to the film being too damaged (or downright missing), but the consensus for the most part among fans is that, except for the updated opening titles, this is the definitive way to watch this series.
For the first half of the 1990s, the fans were convinced that Carter had plotted an elaborate and minutely thought-out web of deceit and lies for his FBI agents to unravel. Forests of Epileptic Trees sprouted around every new tantalizing hint revealed. No reference was too obscure for devoted X-Philes, who cheerfully threw themselves into history, folklore, myth, science, or any other branch of human knowledge that seemed like it might shed some light on the story. By the latter end of the decade, though, the Myth Arc story had churned along for years without really answering any of the questions raised. And any answered questions would usually either just ending up raising more questions, or the answer would soon thereafter be retconned. It had mutated into a dense Kudzu Plot, and fans began to suspect that there was no intricately plotted story — he had just been making it all up as he went along. (Carter eventually confirmed this suspicion.) Fans were irritated by the resolutions to side plots that were long-running, such as the fate of Mulder's sister — turns out she was spirited away by the fairies! This eventually went on into the finale which made promises of resolving the Myth Arc which not only fails to do so but also in the last ten minutes presents a teaser for an alien invasion set to occur in 2012 (which to this day looks like it may never be resolved at all).
When the series was given an unexpected revival in 2016, it didn't take this trope long to hit it again. The first episode begins with a massive Retcon that makes a hash of a lot of the previous mythology, aliens not having much interaction with humanity at all, and most of their supposed crimes being the work of humans using stolen alien technology — despite the numerous aliens that had been on the show before. Most of the season was filler, and the season finale ends on yet anotherCliffhanger, despite another season not being greenlit at that point and the principal actors not signed on for more. Fans who were hoping to finally get some closure after years of waiting were left sorely disappointed; at best, they might finally get a resolution in another few years, at worst, the show gets cancelled again and they're right back to where they started.
Two years later, the revival would get a second season, only for it to start with the extremely controversial twist that Scully was essentially raped by the Cigarette-Smoking Man to produce William, and end with the Cigarette-Smoking Man yet again being killed for presumably the last time, and yet again the X-Files are shut down as a Cliffhanger. Once again, fans were less than satisfied, though general reception for the season was more positive than the first.
Also by Chris Carter, Millennium is a good example of this. The show got increasingly bizarre and difficult to follow as it went on, and the end of the third (and final) season provided no closure at all. Each season had a different showrunner(s), each with a very different idea of what the show should be (Are Frank Black's flashes simply a visualization of his deductive skills or psychic visions? What is the Millennium group's agenda?) and no one from above willing to set boundaries. After the cancellation, the whole thing was put into the laps of The X-Files team. This resulted in a Fully Absorbed Finale for Millennium within The X-Files that also failed to resolve anything.
Creator's Pet: Doggett's detractors accuse him of being one of these — the writers seemed determined to have him save the day as often as possible when he first appeared, even if it required making Scully uncharacteristically weak or stupid. Confirmed according to The Other Wiki. Carter was obsessed with making much of the 8th season about Doggett. This upset David Duchovny who then asked to get to write and direct an episode revolving around Mulder's abduction. Chris Carter then rejected this idea because it "wasn't about Doggett".
Crosses the Line Twice: In "Teliko", the MOTW feeds on pituitary hormones that stimulate the production of the pigment melanin — the one that gives us our skin color. As a result, his preferred victims are people of African descent. Even funnier, pituitary melanocyte-stimulating hormone is not responsible for the baseline skin tones of humans. He'd have been better off attacking Caucasians with obvious suntans, or people with Addison's disease. So in other words, the monster just might be racist. As if that weren't enough, Mulder's remark upon seeing one victim's body was:
Delusion Conclusion: Some viewers believe that the show takes place entirely in Mulder's head, providing him a fantasy world in which the conspiracies he believes in are real and he often turns out to be correct.
Draco in Leather Pants: Krycek. No matter how many times he tried to kill Mulder and Scully and how horrible deeds he committed, some fans still root for him and think he's the force for the good, very much like the agents.
Dry Docking: Why do you think people were so happy that Mulder and Scully held out for so long?
The flukeman is one of the most popular and well-remembered monsters that Mulder and Scully have encountered. Many fans are disappointed that the Sequel Hook ending its episode had was never followed up. The season 10 comics even brought it back and gave it a proper backstory.
Skinner is a great example. For some people, him just showing up in the second movie was the best thing about it.
The Lone Gunmen. A trio of conspiracy theorists and nerdy friends of Mulder's were welcome additions to the show from their very first appearance.
Eugene Victor Tooms distinguished himself as one of the series' most popular Monster of the Week, even being one of the few to appear in more than one episode.
Mrs. Scully. Sheila Larken's performance was always a joy to watch. Only one thing - pity that Mrs. Scully usually showed up only for a family crisis and thus was seen to suffer a lot.
Agent Pendrell, a science guy with a crush on Scully. Amazing that he managed to become a fans' favourite with so little number of occurrences.
The Peacock Family are some of the most well-liked MOTWs, simply for how utterly terrifying they managed to be despite not having any real supernatural traits.
Clyde Bruckman only appeared in one episode and died at the end of it, but is beloved for being simultaneously tragic and hilarious, and his episode is regarded as one of the best of the series.
Evil Is Cool: The Cigarette-Smoking Man is this, especially in the early seasons where he's a mysterious and imposing figure mostly lurking in the background.
The ultimate reveal of Samantha's fate. Mulder was tormented by her clones and doubles and statements that she's still alive. It was finally revealed that she had been abducted by the conspiracy who had collaborated with the aliens, we learnt that horrible tests had been performed on her and then she had lived with the Cancer Man's family. So far so good fans always suspected something like this. However, when she was 14, she was "saved" by fairies or angels that made her body disappear, meaning that her corpse will never be found, but Mulder did see her ghost.
The implication aliens have never really been in contact with humans, beyond the Syndicate seizing their tech and using it for nefarious purposes in "My Struggle". Especially given there are a lot of things contradicting this in the original run, a lot of fans are hoping for it to be a fakeout.
Fanon Discontinuity: One of the reasons for the whole Broken Base mess. People differ on where they put the cutoff, but if you want a calm friendly discussion about the show it's safest to avoid bringing up seasons 8 and 9.
The specific episode that gets this the most is probably "Jump the Shark", which drops a bridge on the Lone Gunmen. Fans everywhere declared that Fletcher was lying through his teeth and it's considered one of the worst episodes of the series. The creators weren't veryfond of it either as the comic continuation retcons the Lone Gunmen's deaths away with a Hand Wave.
The 2016 revival was especially divisive because it retconned the entire mythology the show had spent 9 years building, as well as bringing the Smoking Man Back from the Dead in the most implausible way imaginable, even for this show. Many fans choose to believe the revival never happened.
Strangely inverted with "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man"; Word of God says that it's not canon or is pseudocanon (that is, parts of it happened but other parts didn't) but many fans take it as canon since it gives a lot of backstory and characterization to the Cigarette-Smoking Man.
Mulder and Krycek, full stop. Krycek is something of a Foe Yay whore. He has chemistry with practically everyone, but it's most obvious with Mulder. He forces a peck on Mulder's cheek in one episode.
Barnett and Mulder in "Young at Heart". Let's review: Barnett is a mass murderer who gets off on the suffering of his victims, is stalking and playing freaky mind games with Mulder... and in the flashback, to the trial, we see him mouth "I'll. Get. You." to Mulder right before BLOWING HIM A KISS.
An even harsher example from the following episode: Scully and a Quantico classmate discuss a mutual acquaintance's career progress in "Squeeze", and both dismiss him as a suck-up who's climbing the FBI ladder because he's a publicity hog, working high-profile media cases but not getting any real work done. How did this ex-classmate get himself noticed by the upper ranks? Investigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The episode features an Army Colonel administering a Haitian refugee camp say: "We're soldiers, not prison guards. And we're being asked to police a hostile population of foreigners without the resources to feed or house them." Hard for a contemporary viewer not to think of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.
"Dreamland II" reveals that Saddam Hussein is a character created by the government for whenever they need someone to do some saber-rattling.
"Three of a Kind" ends with Langly trying to cheer up Byers after his separation from a romantic interest, Suzanne, by quipping that "growing old with [him and Frohike] ain't so bad". Three seasons later, the Lone Gunmen are all killed at a young age.
David Duchovny's later admission that he had a severe sex addiction puts the recurring gag about Mulder's porn fetish in an uncomfortable new light.
Growing the Beard: After the first episode of the revival, "My Struggle" proved to be divisive, "Founder's Mutation" managed to regrow the beard for the show with its classic monster of the week action and emotional looks at Mulder and Scully's regrets.
Chris Carter has stated that Scully's initial character profile was Clarice Starling from The Silence of the Lambs in all but name. Gillian Anderson later took a role in the prequel series Hannibal (and was the first choice to play Clarice herself in the film of the same name, except her contract with the show forbade her from playing other FBI agents).
The character 'Deep Throat' gets his nickname from the Watergate informant. Mulder claims the shows' 'Deep Throat' is "...in the FBI". In Real Life, the 'real' 'Deep Throat' was later shown to be have been in the FBI.
Mulder and Krycek. Foe Yay after Krycek is revealed to be a double agent.
Mulder and Skinner. They are reasonably close for two law-enforcement loner agents, and especially considering that Skinman is Mulder's superior and all-around hardass boss. In the season 10 premiere, Skinner notes a day hasn't gone by in 14 years in which he hasn't wanted to call Mulder.
Mulder in general is... very comfortable with his masculinity. In the season 2 episode "Humbug":
Mr. Nutt: Just because I'm not of so-called average height does not mean I must receive my thrills vicariously. Not all women are attracted to overly tall, lanky men such as yourself. You'd be surprised how many women find my size intriguingly alluring. Mulder: You'd be surprised how many men do as well.
If you're in a Les Yay mood, the two teen girls in "Syzygy" are... close. Their catch-phrase "Hate him, wouldn't want to date him" is introduced as "Hate her, wouldn't want to date her."
The nude exam scene◊ between Scully and the other woman in "Ice" is rather tender.
Leonard Betts, the cancer eating mutant. He doesn't want to hurt people and tried to only eat from corpses, but then he got exposed by a car accident and just couldn't fight the hunger anymore. Rob Roberts suffers from similar problems.
The theme song. Wah-wah-wah-wah-WAH-wah (Deedledeedledeedle) Wah-wah-wah-wah-WAH-wah (Deedledeedee) WAH-wah-wah-wah-WAH.note Humming, playing, or whistling the melody indicates that something paranormal or at least something very weird is going on. It's also associated with conspiracy theories about The Illuminati, often by people parodying said theories (usually by pasting the Eye of Providence onto anything that's vaguely triangle-shaped and then playing the music).
I want to believe. note Both the phrase itself and Mulder's UFO poster displaying it, which has spawned its own set of online photoshops.
The truth is out there. note It was the main message appearing at the end of the opening credits. Represents the constant search for what exactly is going on.
Trust no one. note The season 1 finale changed the tag line in the opening credits for the first time from 'The truth is out there' to 'Trust no one', and Mulder's first Mysterious Informant Deep Throat told him the phrase as his dying words. It kept resurfacing from time to time.
... bleeping dead alien. note In "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'", one of the detectives curses like a sailor, which they can't show in the "Rashomon"-Style episode. So he says "bleep" a lot. Both Mulder and Scully quote the detective in phrases ending with "bleeping dead alien".
It was fans of the show who invented the term "Shipping", as a way of labeling the fans who wanted Mulder and Scully to get together (shippers; from the word relationship) and the ones who didn't (noromos, from "no romance").
"Mulder, are you suggesting that..." and other variations of such, almost once per episode.
"Mulder, it's me." To the point that it was winkingly used as Scully's introductory line in the first movie. Mulder and Scully were among the first characters on TV who were using cell phones regularly.
"Jose Chung" also helped give us the persistent refrain "ayy lmao," with a screenshot from the episode serving as the original macro template.
Agent Mulder and Agent Scully. Even people who never watched the show know them by name and the vast majority of people know that Mulder is a whacky believer, while Scully is a skeptic.
Moral Event Horizon: Krycek officially crosses it in "Patient X", where he captures a boy who's seen a UFO, infects him with the Black Oil, and makes sure he remains infected, by sewing his mouth and eyes shut so that the Oil can't leak out.
Narm: Most of the weekly promos for classic X-Files episodes are filled with tension and horror towards the potential next threat faced by Mulder and Scully. Only for the "Firewalker" and "Excelsis Dei" promos, a single instance of the Howie scream turns those trailers from scary to flat-out funny.
Paranoia Fuel: The whole. Goddamn. Show. Government hiding info? Alien invaders? The fact the monsters of the week are hiding in everyday America? The revival is adding mass government surveillance to the paranoia stew.
Popularity Polynomial: After enjoying massive success in the '90s, the show's popularity went spiraling downhill in the '00s due to both Seasonal Rot and, more importantly, the profoundly altered cultural climate post-9/11. The mixed reception of I Want to Believe seemingly confirmed that the show was dead. However, it enjoyed a solid comeback in the '10s, thanks to both the rise of binge-watching (see Better on DVD above) and the Edward Snowden revelations helping to put conspiracy culture back into the mainstream.
Both Doggett and Reyes are seen this way by many fans. Doggett got less of it, mostly due to Robert Patrick's performance; many fans like him as a supporting/recurring character and only disliked the fact that he replaced Mulder. Reyes wasn't as lucky. The chemistry this pair of agents had couldn't compare to the epic levels which Mulder and Scully had. Some fans who liked Doggett weren't happy when he didn't return for the 2016 revival and that Reyes did (not helped by the fact that Patrick currently appears in Scorpion).
Marita Covarubbias wasn't especially popular compared to her predecessors Deep Throat and X. Her myriad double-crosses and hooking up with Krycek didn't endear her to many fans, either.
The Scrappy: Diana Fowley, AKA The Fowl One, was loathed by a vast majority of fans. She was not meant to be likeable, but she was hated even more than the writers anticipated. She was assigned to the X-Files cases when Mulder and Scully were Reassigned to Antarctica and she soon revealed herself as a rat collaborating with The Conspiracy. Moreover, she was forced as a Romantic False Lead and Old Flame to Mulder, so naturally especially shippers hated her. Her final deeds and death redeemed her a little, but there was hardly a fan who shed a tear for her.
Some fans loathe Season 7, due to questionable twists in the Mythology (especially the Samantha reveal in Closure), a perceived excess of humorous episodes and the assorted twists in "Requiem." In fairness to Chris Carter and Co., Fox was planning to cancel the series and only renewed it at the last minute, causing the show to prematurely wrap up loose ends. Still, even X-Philes who dislike Seasons 8-9 sometimes rate them above the 7th. However, a lot of fans still view it as a great season, with some even calling it the last good season.
Season 9. There's some disagreement as to exactly when the show took a wrong turn and started going downhill, but many agree that by Season 9, at least, major problems had set in. Although the replacement of Mulder with John Doggett in Season 8 at least had a mixed reception, the same can't be said of Season 9, where Scully was phased out in favor of Monica Reyes, and the conspiracy arc was dragged out for far too long, leading to a series finale that offered very little resolution.
The finale was intended to be a set-up for a series of feature films that would finally start resolving the Myth Arc, but that ultimately didn't come to pass.
The 2016 mini-series isn't exactly beloved by fans either. The nature of the Government Conspiracy shifted in quite a radical way which heavily contradicted much of what came before (even accounting for the fact that the show's Myth Arc had never exactly been consistent), and a certain amount of Values Dissonance in the way conspiracy theorists were depicted in the 1990s (as heroic crusaders for the truth) compared to how they are widely viewed in 2016 (as deluded and potentially even dangerous followers of fringe and extremist political movements) meant that the premise hadn't aged very well in several ways.
Special Effect Failure: Lots of 'em, especially in the first three seasons or so, when the show had little budget to speak of.
Early on, the show's special effects were created using the NTSC 29.97 frame rate, while the show was recorded on 24fps film stock. As a result, the digital effects would move much at a completely different (and much smoother) frame rate than the background plates, or the vehicular action would be very obviously sped up in post to try and lend it some thrills.
The swarm of bugs in "Darkness Falls". It's painfully obvious that the bugs are just random dots that move around. When the swarm "moves", it looks like the bugs are confined by a flat surface in the direction of motion.
The age-makeup in "Død Kalm". Especially if you compare it to the awesome make-up of victims of an unknown disease a few episodes later.
In "Anasazi", there are some very unsuccessful composite shots◊ that attempt to place the actors in the New Mexico desert rather than a quarry in Vancouver.
HD remasters only: while the production team had excellent foresight in regards to widescreen television usage, in "Hollywood A.D." it's obvious when a stunt double fills in for Gillian Anderson in the Funny Background Event where Scully shows Téa Leoni how to run in heels.
Scully. The more upset she is, the more she'll insist that she's fine.
Clyde Bruckman. He seems like a guy with a stiff upper lip, but then you learn how miserable his powers make him.
Mulder as of "Founder's Mutation". He tells Scully he's worried about William just like her but is trying to move on. The flashback at the end of the episode shows this is far from true.
Take That, Scrappy!: Doggett gets one in his very first scene when Scully angrily throws water in his face. Chris Carter has said that he knew replacing Mulder with Doggett wouldn't be a very popular move, so instead of Character Shilling, he gave fans what they wanted right off the bat.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Ask ten different X-Files fans and you're likely to get ten different answers about when, exactly, the show started to suck.
After David Duchovny left the show in season 8, and Robert Patrick was brought in to play John Doggett as a replacement to Mulder, several fans abandoned the show, noting that the interactions between Mulder and Scully were a major aspect of the shows appeal.
Some cite season 6 as the start of the decline due to the move from Vancouver to Los Angeles (claiming that the often dreary northwest weather enhanced the quality of the show, in contrast to bright and sunny Hollywood) and the introduction of a romantic arc between the two main characters (which alienated those who preferred to see them as Platonic Life-Partners).
Doggett and Reyes in the revival seasons. Reyes has a FaceHeel Turn and Doggett suffers from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome (courtesy of Robert Patrick having scheduling conflicts). As a result, some feel that Doggett's absence should have been at least explained while being open enough for his possible return, especially if it was a tragic event that contributed to why Reyes ended up the way she was in her own return, like in the comic continuation. It's rather glaring since Season 9 ended with them being almost as major to the show as Scully and Mulder, only for the show to return to status quo.
Mr. Y and Erika Price. They were introduced at the beginning of season 11 as former members of the Syndicate. Their main goals are to colonize space with a select few, through the use of Dyson spheres, man-made environments and human mind uploading into digital simulations, the latter of which was revealed the next episode. Apart from that, we never learn about what drove them to these plans or its details, something that the Syndicate mythology actually did midway through season 6. Instead, the two are killed in that season's finale with little fanfare.
At the end of The X-Files: Fight the Future, Scully mentions that the virus she was exposed to has a cure: the mysterious vaccine. Trying to retrieve the Well-Manicured Man's research or developing the vaccine at the labs of the Bureau would make for a great story arc. Some people kept enjoying season 6, but more serious and darker episodes would have been welcome, and the Myth Arc had visibly less screen time, which disappointed some fans.
Anytime a Monster of the Week episode ends with a Sequel Hook (such as "The Host" where the last few minutes reveal that the flukeman survived its fight with Mulder) that is never followed up on.
The series' original run ended with the Super Soldiers having formed a new Syndicate and preparing for the alien invasion of Earth (supposedly taking place in 2012). The second movie, I Want to Believe, completely ignores this storyline for... a monster-of-the-week type plot.
The 2016 revival again ignores the invasion and the Super Soldiers, focusing instead on a less interesting Myth Arc involving the Spartan virus and the search for William.
Values Dissonance: The 2016 revival got some criticism for presenting Mulder's old theories completely at face value again, with little to acknowledge how conspiracy theories are now largely associated with extreme fringe nuts, rather than the more sympathetic view they had in the '90s. The premiere even features Joel McHale as a No Celebrities Were Harmed take-off on Alex Jones who's presented as a hero with no sense of irony. Despite enjoying the episode, the AV Club's reviewer thought that real-life tragedies such as 9/11 were being mercilessly exploited.
Poor, poor Max Fenig. His abductions give him seizures and generally, his life is only suffering.
Lanny in "Humbug", largely due to the performance of the late Vincent Schiavelli.
Mulder and Scully themselves; especially Mulder given his deeply tragic backstory and motives.
The Soul Eater. An Empathetic Healer who gets abused as a disease trash can by the selfish townspeople, with the result that he's been left as a crippled wreck who can barely walk.
Win the Crowd: For fans who are skeptical about the revival, the return of well-liked crew members, including Darin Morgan, and the promise of an equal split between mythology and Monster of the Week episodes has done a lot to win them over.